Friday, 16 March 2018

Semporna and Mabul ; Make The Best Out of It

To say that our trip to Semporna is perfect; would be a lie.
But we enjoyed em and that's the most important thing.

Bought the tickets on a whim, during AirAsia promo early last year. RM240 per pax (return flight) which I think is quite reasonable considering the distance.

I would highly recommend for you to stay for at least 5 days to cover all the attractions. Being there for only 4 days, it was a bit tiring and we can't stay for more than a night in Mabul.


Things To Know
  • Nearest airport is Tawau Airport. From here, it takes around 1 hour to get to Semporna. [RM90 per taxi or RM25 per person via shuttle van] - I liaised directly with my hotel for the transport
  • Mabul Island is open throughout the year since they are monsoon-free
  • There are two marine parks; Tun Sakaran and Sipadan. Tun Sakaran is where Bohey Dulang is plus all the island hopping activities. Sipadan includes Mabul, Kapalai etc. 
  • So if you are planning to go to Bohey Dulang, you'll need to be in Semporna; they don't do Tun Sakaran trips from Mabul
  • That is why ideally you'll need 5 days to cover both marine parks
  • Earliest flight to Tawau is at 7.15. You'll arrived at Semporna at approximately 11ish am.

Day 1
Airport transfer and checked in. Okay, about the hotel I chose. The only reason I chose Poga Backpackers is that it has 8.1 rating on Booking.com 
Some hotels scored higher but they only offered shared accommodation [dormitories]. But this place has its pro and cons. 
Pros : super strategic location, nice hosts, AC
Cons :  super thin bed, super slow water pressure, thin walls

I would recommend Dragon Floating Inn or Sipadan Inn 2. They're super near to everything; Giant, Watson, pharmacy, the jetty and restaurants. 

We ate at Restoran Bismillah and Fat Mom - for seafood [both are highly recommended].

For cheap seafood, do go to Fat Mom; they even open during lunch. We ate here twice, both not costing more than RM40. Once we ordered small portion of dried butter prawn (RM16 : 9 large prawns); so cheap!

During the first day, we just walked around, not doing much because the boat to Mabul leaves at 8am and we obviously missed them. The snorkeling trip starts at 9am and again, we missed it.


Day 2
Woke up early to go to island hopping. Booked the trip with Semporna Travel on FB. To be honest, it was a bit disappointing. We paid RM95 each for a 4-island visit. The tourist jetty was 1.5km away. So we walked in the scorching sun 💀

  • Pulau Tatagan : the sea gypsies village. Basically we just went near their floating houses and the children will just hop over your bot and kinda harassed you for money and treats. When it went overboard, the guide will chase them away. But it was good  seeing a different way of life there.
  • Pulau Bohey Dulang : should be the highlight of our trip. Were promised a hiking guide but we didn't have any [there was 12 of us] The route were crazy, nearly vertical from the get go. Not even 100m in, I gave up. I has torn ligaments on my ankle and still recovering. So we went back down and wait for others. They said the view from the top is amazing.
View on top of Bohey Dulang [from Google]
  • Pulau Mantabuan : perhaps the biggest disappointment of the day 😖 It was a small island, yes. Beautiful, clear water but not much to see underwater. It's a bit like Pulau Beras Basah in Langkawi, not so much of a snorkeling spot.
  • Pulau Sibuan : this redeemed everything! Very very beautiful place.
Pulau Sibuan
For our trip back to hotel, we called Uber [nasib baik ada].
That night, we ate at Fat Mom again. Ordered 'kerang' and we got this weird version instead. Hahaha Not as juicy as the usual type we had.



Day 3
After breakfast, we went to Billabong office which was only a few steps away and got on the boat to Mabul (the jetty was just beside the office). One hour later, we arrived at Billabong Scuba [will do a dedicated post later].

Checked in, had lunch, went snorkeling, walked around the island...


Day 4
Breakfast, snorkeling again, lunch then checked out. Went back to Semporna and then to Airport.

The End.


*some companies provide an all-in service [Mahligai Semporna & Adli Ayob on FB] just compare their prices with your budget!

**all in all, we spent around RM1,100 per pax 

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